6 Ways to Find Work As a Self-Employed Creative

If you’re new to freelancing, you might be wondering how to find work as a self-employed creative.

As you begin to establish a name for yourself within your industry it may be the case that work finds you – either through word of mouth, clients you’ve worked with previously, or your portfolio being discovered online (now’s a good time to double-check your site has these 7 things that every business website needs to have). However, particularly in the early days, it’s likely most of your commissions will come from proactively seeing opportunities. 

The question is – where do you even begin to look for them? 

Keep scrolling for some of the best and most fruitful ways to find work as a self-employed creative.

Find work as a self-employed creative: desk with chair, lamp, vase of flowers

6 ways to find work as a self-employed creative

1. Join Facebook groups for self-employed and freelance creatives

Facebook is one of my favourite resources for finding work – I have secured a number of really great commissions through simply responding to callouts from brands and editors in private groups.

The trick is tracking down the Facebook groups that are both relevant to the service/s you provide and receive a lot of activity – particularly from people with work to offer (try asking industry peers if they are aware of any good ones if you haven’t yet come across any).

Once you’ve located and joined the best Facebook groups make sure your notifications are turned on to avoid missing commission opportunities. And don’t be afraid to use the space to network, interact with others within your field and post if you’re actively searching for work. Strictly no spam, though.

2. Sign up for newsletters 

Imagine – a curated list of work opportunities and commissioning editor contact details landing right in your inbox, every week. A freelancer’s dream, no?

Actually, very real, you’ll be glad to hear. 

Freelance Writing Jobs and Journo Resources are my favourite newsletters for freelance and self-employed writers.

3. Grow your network

I cannot stress enough the value of having good working relationships with others in your field. Not only can you offer one another support and understanding when navigating the more complex and difficult areas of freelancing as a creative, but you can also advocate for each other, and refer work opportunities.

20+ years into my career as a self-employed interior stylist and art director, and the majority of my work comes from people I have built relationships with over years. It pays off.

4. Search online

It’s not always easy locating freelance opportunities online – jobs websites don’t tend to cater to self-employed folk searching for contract work or one-off projects. However, LinkedIn is always worth a search, and more modern jobs listing sites, such as The Dots, sometimes have a good selection of flexible working jobs for freelancers.

5. Use socials to your advantage

Whilst sending a CV via DM might not be the most professional approach to applying for a job, that’s no reason you can’t use social media to search for work opportunities. Many brands – particularly independent and startup businesses – use social media to target potential candidates, and editors frequently place callouts on their private channels, too.

Follow your favourite brands on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and make sure your notifications are turned on. Also, spend some time researching the commissioning editors at your favourite publications (and so on) and be sure to follow their accounts (if public) too. Keep on top of Tweets and Instagram stories – that’s often where you’ll find callouts.

6. Be proactive

Work opportunities won’t always fall into your lap or even onto your radar. Sometimes you have to really dig for them.

Whilst cold emailing people you don’t know may feel a little uncomfortable to do at first, it can be a very fruitful method of finding work. The key is tracking down the right person to direct the email to, and getting your pitch just right (read my blog post on how to write an email pitch).

Be sure to address the recipient by name and write a thoughtful email that details why you want to work specifically with that person/brand, and how your expertise can benefit them. Provide links to your portfolio and testimonials, if you have any, and always end the email with a question.